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Organizational politics can be understood as the behavior by individuals or groups within a given organization to put their interest first at the corporate interests. The extent to which politics is played in an organization depends on the ways in which various conflicting interests are expressed and how the leadership of the organization reacts to them. Studies have also shown that it is impossible to keep politics away from any organizational set up. This is because within any organization, there are different departments, teams and even individuals. It is therefore normal to find that at any given time there is a conflict between any of these groups. Thus politics is inherent and can not be avoided in any organization.
Causes of Organization Politics
The major cause of politics within organizations is uncertainty. This results from unclear objectives by the management or their leaders resulting into the making of decisions that are not clear for everyone. Such situations breed the spirit of competition characterized by implementation of unclear changes. Some organizational politics are also caused by the management itself. This could be a strategy to cause internal competition for resources, budgets and recognition for the faster realization of the organizational goals. Even the very nature of the organizational structure makes it obvious that there will always be some form of conflict. Organization leadership occurs in the context of groups in which the leader has to seek to have influence over his followers for organizational goals to be realized.
The extent to which politics is played normally depends on the way in which the leaders use their authority in trying to influence their followers. Politics may take such forms as conflict over the use of resources or competition for power and leadership positions. Organizational politics is hidden in various management systems including relationships and organizational norms.
The political systems allow the organizations to solve any emerging rival system. Proper understanding of the political system of an organization is required to allow leaders to operate effectively and realize their goals by positively influencing and motivating their followers. Leaders who have proper understanding of the existing political groups usually make decisions that unite their followers. They also find it easy to handle any emerging conflict.
As much as organizational politics is beneficial, there are other forms of organizational politics that may be disastrous to the realization of organizational goals. Negative politics may have negative impact on the staff morale, their productivity and profitability. It creates an environment in which each individual is striving to achieve his/her own goals forsaking the corporate goals of the organization. It only works to distract energy away from organizational goals while completely killing the interests, cooperation and fulfillment of the aspirations employees.
Available Solutions to Organizations
Because politics is inherent in any organization, organizations must put strategies in place to protect themselves from its negativity. Impression management is therefore very necessary in this process. It helps the organization to unite its employees through ensuring proper control and timely circulation of its information. Research has shown that negative politics is rare in organizations which keep high level awareness and democracy. However, any management that seeks to employ this strategy must ensure that they have leaders of high integrity and credibility.
With proper strategies in place, organizational politics can be beneficial. However, organizations must strive to equip their leaders by promoting a positive culture that value integrity, respect and fairness to all its stakeholders. Leaders chosen must also be those who can strongly influence their followers while channeling their interest and energy away from negative political interplay. In this way, it will be easy for an organization to achieve its goals.